In the wake of the Murdoch scandal, American journalists contributed a few self-congratulatory pieces claiming that such outrages could never happen here, that standards are much higher on this side of the pond.
I am not a regular consumer of U.K. News, but I've seen enough of the stuff to cry bullshit
. Despite Murdoch's depredations, the better British journalists cover more stories more intelligently than do their American counterparts. And god knows I wouldn't trade the BBC for Fox News. Or even PBS.
I'd like to hear feedback on this point, especially from any readers who have lived in both countries.
If you're from the U.K., maybe you can help me understand something else. Why has the term "Portillo moment" become such a popular synonym for political humiliation?
That phrase was born out of Conservative Member of Parliament Michael Portillo's re-election defeat in 1997. From Wikipedia:
The 1997 loss, symbolising the loss of the election by the Conservative Party, has been referred to as "the Portillo moment", and in the cliché "Were you up for Portillo?" (i.e. "Were you awake/did you see Portillo's result announced on television?") Portillo himself commented, thirteen years later, that as a consequence "My name is now synonymous with eating a bucketload of shit in public."
The thing is, I've seen the video. Portillo behaved with great dignity. I had been led to believe that he radiated Nixonian rancor and bitterness on that occasion, none of which was in evidence.
Portillo was a Thatcherite who stood for a lot of things I oppose. I never would have voted for him. That said, I've read some of his writings and have heard his work on a terrific BBC radio series called Things We Forgot to Remember
. By U.K. standards, Portillo is considered a conservative -- but if he tried to run for office in the United States, there might be no place for him. In most states, he'd be considered too liberal. Hell, he'd be labeled a socialist.
Jesus. Things really have gotten bad in this country. At what point does it become time to bail?